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It's not as famous as Ashland's BIG theatre festival, but the Ashland New Plays Festival is plenty influential. 

Playwrights from across the country submit plays to be read by experienced actors, and just four plays are chosen for performance. 

Beth Kander is back for a second straight year with a new play called "Hazardous Materials." 

We had a practice a bit just to be able to say the name "Cthulhu." 

It's a character from a horror story by H.P. Lovecraft... and now the central figure in a musical!  With puppets! 

"Cthulhu: The Musical" is being presented at an Ashland tavern (Oberon's) by the wonderfully named troupe "Puppeteers For Fears." 


The play version of Edgar Lee Masters' "Spoon River Anthology" features the characters telling their stories from the graveyard, after death. 

So it seems appropriate to use the play as a fundraiser for a graveyard. 

And that's just what's happening, as the Friends of Jacksonville's Historic Cemetery mount a production of "Spoon River" to bring in money for cemetery upkeep. 

David Gordon provides musical accompaniment for the play. 


You might listen to Jake Wardle and not even know it.  Because the guy can speak English in a huge variety of accents. 

Meryl Streep might have trouble keeping up with him. 

He makes films and seeks voice acting work; Wardle already has a huge following on YouTube

There may be nothing that excites a performer more than performing on a new stage. 

So excitement is likely rampant at Random People Theater Project in Humboldt County. 

The group, composed of amateurs and old pros, performed for years at the Mateel Center in Redway, but just moved to a new home in Garberville. 

It's not just theater IN the community, it is theater ABOUT the community... Random People encourages stories from the region, written by local people about local people.

Just because your middle name is "Shakespeare" doesn't mean all your work has to be hundreds of years old. 

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival commits art in a number of avenues, including hip-hop. 

The Hip Hop Poetry Open Mic Nights started several years ago at OSF.  The next, coming tonight (April 4), features Dahlak Brathwaite, who has gained a national reputation for his work (it's free!). 

Ashland Contemporary Theatre

A couple of Rogue Valley theatre heavyweights join forces for the staging of the play "Red." 

The play, opening March 11th, brings Ashland Contemporary Theatre Artistic Director Jeannine Grizzard and Oregon Stage Works Artistic Director Peter Alzado as co-directors, with Alzado as the lead actor. 

The play concerns the art of the abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko, and explores his art and his life and the implications of each. 

"Red" is also the first production on a new stage at Grizzly Peak Winery near Ashland.

With a title like "Urinetown," a theater group had better be prepared to convince audience members that they made the right choice. 

No trepidation there for the leaders of Barnstormers Theatre in Grants Pass. 

The group claims to be Oregon's oldest continuous community theatre, making crowds laugh and cry since 1952. 


After a hiatus forced by January 1st (a holiday) falling on a Friday, First Friday Arts returns to The Exchange!

The first Friday of any month has become a day to celebrate the arts around our region. 

Several communities hold First Friday art walks, and some hold similar observances on other weekend days. 

The Exchange syncs up with the art world on First Friday, by visiting with listeners about arts events in the coming month.

Start warming up your voice.  Friday is here, and with it, the return of our First Friday Arts Segment.

And we'll be singing a cappella with the Rogue Valley Harmonizers, our featured guests in our First Friday Arts segment. 

The Exchange syncs up with the art world on First Friday, by visiting with listeners about arts events in the coming month.

Chronicle Books

Everybody knows somebody who is just truly funny. 

But does ANYBODY know somebody who can make a living being funny?  You will now: Joe Randazzo is a former editor of "The Onion," and he's been making comedy for a living for years. 

He tells the story of his successful career in the book Funny On Purpose.

World Premiere: "A Question of Words"

Feb 3, 2015
Camelot Theatre

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is known for the occasional world premiere of a new play. 

But this time a smaller community theater is the one trotting out a new work. 

Camelot Theatre in Talent is the first company to put on a fully-staged version of Richard Manley's "A Question of Words."

The play has been heard in the Rogue Valley before... it was one of the plays in the 2013 Ashland New Plays Festival, as a staged reading. 

Jenny Graham

The two comedies anchoring the 2014 season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival put the accent on zany shenanigans. The Cocoanuts, by Irving Berlin and George S. Kaufman, was created as a vehicle for the legendary Marx Brothers—vaudeville veterans with a bottomless bag of comic shticks. And the title of Shakespeare’s early The Comedy of Errors says it all: mistaken identities, compounding misunderstandings, escalating farce.

Greg Eliason

The frustration in crafting this column is the long lag-time between deadline and publication date. Add to that the tradition of orienting December articles to holiday subjects, and my enthusiasm for the Southern Oregon University production last November of The White Fugue, devised and directed by James Donlon, becomes almost a why-bother-mention-it-now?

Ashland New Plays Festival Rolls Out Readings

Oct 21, 2013

Just as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival approaches the end of its long season, its hometown plays host to a smattering of plays that may grace stages in the future.

The Ashland New Plays Festival returns this week, giving audiences a chance to see and hear readings of plays by playwrights both established and new. 

The Teacher Behind The Success of "Drama High"

Oct 7, 2013

Think of it as "Friday Night Lights" with stage lighting. 

A high school theater in economically depressed Levittown, Pennsylvania cranked out highly polished hits, and careers in theater for some of its participants, under the direction of Lou Volpe. 

Method To The Madness: "Divine Lunacy"

Sep 19, 2013
David Gabriel & Peter Quince

How best to broach the subject of mental illness?